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(A) Permits. All new signs, except as otherwise provided in § 155.09, shall require a sign permit prior to being located or erected on any property within the jurisdiction of this chapter. A sketch of the proposed sign to scale, along with a general sketch of the proposed placement of the sign in the parcel shall accompany the application for a permit. Sign permits shall be issued by the Land Use Administrator. If a sign permit is denied, the decision may be appealed to the Board of Adjustment as provided in this chapter, specifically as indicated in § 152.075 through § 152.078.
(B) Permit fees. The Town Council may establish a fee schedule by resolution for all sign permits issued in accordance with this chapter.
(C) Nonconforming signs.
(1) Signs that are erected and were in place prior to the adoption of this chapter but which do not conform to the provisions of this chapter are declared nonconforming signs. Signs that were erected and that are in place and which conformed to the provisions of this chapter at the time erected, but which do not conform to an amendment of this chapter enacted subsequent to the erection of the signs also are declared nonconforming signs. Any sign erected after the passage of this chapter must meet all the criteria within this chapter.
(a) All nonconforming signs erected and located within the town’s jurisdiction at the time of the adoption of the sign ordinance on May 3, 2004 must be made conforming or removed within five years of the adoption of this chapter.
(b) All signs made nonconforming by the adoption of this chapter must be made conforming or removed within 12 years of the adoption of this chapter.
(2) All nonconforming signs shall be maintained in accordance with § 155.13 but shall not be:
(a) Moved, changed, replaced, reestablished, or relocated except in conformance with the provisions of this chapter, provided that copy may be changed on an existing sign;
(b) Expanded; or
(c) Modified in any way which increases the sign’s degree of nonconformity.
(3) Existing off-premises nonconforming billboards cannot be modified to include digital or other electrically or electronically controlled signage in accordance with § 155.11(C)(1)(c).
(D) Enforcement. Violation of the provisions of these sign regulations shall be enforceable as set forth below in addition to the enforcement provisions as set forth in this chapter.
(1) Notice of violation. The Land Use Administrator shall have the authority to issue a notice of violation for all violations of the sign ordinance. Where the owner of the sign is indicated on the sign or is otherwise apparent or known to the Land Use Administrator, a copy of the notice of violation shall be delivered to the sign owner by hand delivery or by certified mail. In all other cases, a copy of the notice of violation shall be posted on the sign and a copy shall be delivered by hand delivery or certified mail to the property owner as shown on the Macon County tax records. In addition, service hereunder may be made in accordance with Rule 4 of the North Carolina Rules of Civil Procedure.
(2) Time to remedy violation. In instances where the violation or violations of the sign ordinance is or includes failure to obtain a sign permit as required in § 155.15(A), all violations must be remedied immediately. For purposes of this division, “immediately” means within a 24-hour period following the earlier of the posting of the notice of violation on the sign or the delivery of a copy of the notice of violation to the sign owner or property owner. In all other cases, the sign owner and/or the property owner shall have ten days to remedy all violations set forth in the notice of violation. The ten- day period shall commence upon the earlier of the posting of the notice of violation on the sign or the delivery of a copy of the notice of violation to the sign owner or property owner.
(3) Extension of time for compliance. The Land Use Administrator shall have the authority to grant a single 30-day extension of time within which the sign owner must comply with the notice of violation. The single extension of time may be issued based upon a written request for extension of time, which sets forth valid reasons for not complying within the original 30-day period.
(4) Remedies for failure to comply. Pursuant to G.S. § 160A-175(f), the Land Use Administrator may choose from the remedies set forth below to enforce the ordinance when there is a failure to comply with the notice of violation. Those remedies are as follows:
(a) In addition to or in lieu of the other remedies set forth in this section, the Land Use Administrator may issue a citation setting forth a civil penalty of $50. In the case of a continuing violation, each 24-hour period during which the violation continues to exist shall constitute a separate violation. Where multiple violations are located upon a single property, each shall constitute a separate violation, with each violation subject to separate fines pursuant to this subsection. The citation shall be served upon the person(s) described in division (A) of this section by the means set forth therein. In the event the offender does not pay the penalty within ten days of service of the citation, the civil penalty shall be collected by the town in a civil action in the nature of debt, which shall not constitute a misdemeanor, and in so providing, the Town Council hereby chooses to exercise the option provided by G.S. § 160A- 175(b);
(b) In addition to or in lieu of the other remedies set forth in the section, the Land Use Administrator shall have the authority to issue a remove order for any sign not repaired or brought into compliance within the time required by the foregoing provisions. Remove orders shall be issued to and served upon the person(s) described in division (D)(4)(a) of this section by the means set forth therein. The sign owner or the landowner shall be allowed a period of 30 days after the service of the remove order within which to remove the sign at his or her own expense. The remove order shall describe specifically the location of the sign to be removed and all of the reasons for issuance of the remove order, including specific reference to the provisions of the code that have been violated; and
(c) In addition to or in lieu of the other remedies set forth in this section, the Land Use Administrator may seek injunctive relief in the appropriate court.
(5) Removal and recovery expense. If a sign owner or property owner fails to comply with the requirements of a remove order, the Land Use Administrator may cause such sign to be removed. The sign owner and property owner shall be jointly and severally liable for the expense of removal. Notice of the cost of removal shall be served upon the person(s) described in division (D)(4)(a) by the means set forth therein. If the sum is not paid within 30 days thereafter, the sum shall be collected by the town in a civil action in the nature of debt, which shall not subject the offender to the penalty provisions of G.S. § 14.4.
(6) Removal of dangerous signs. Pursuant to G.S. § 160A-193, the Land Use Administrator shall have the authority to summarily remove, abate, or remedy a sign, which is dangerous or prejudicial to the public health or safety. The expense of the action shall be paid by the sign owner, or if the sign owner cannot be determined, by the land owner, and if not paid, shall be a lien upon the land or premises where the nuisance arose, and shall be collected as unpaid taxes.
(Ord. passed 3-1-10; Am. Ord. passed 6-6-11)